Tackling the Tele – The 5 Beaches Loop

After leaving the tip we drove a short distance to Somerset, another area of historical significance.  Unfortunately there is little left here to share the importance of the area, but with a little research you can find out what really made Somerset so important.

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In the mid 1800’s, with significant increases in shipping through the Torres Strait, it was decided to establish a settlement at the top of Australia.  In July 1864 John Jardine, a magistrate from Rockhampton, arrived to oversee the establishment of this new settlement, which was completed 18 months later.  This new settlement was named Somerset.

The Jardine family homestead was located nearby on top of a hill overlooking Somerset.  To this day you can still see the Jardine cannons on the site which mark the entrance to where the homestead once stood.

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After later resigning from the role, John’s eldest son, Frank Jardine, took over and served several terms before resigning in 1873.

Frank passed away in 1919 and his Samoan princess wife, Sana, died four years later.  Other family members remained in the homestead until they were evacuated during WWII, never to return.  Unfortunately the homestead was ultimately burned down by vandals in the 1960’s.  It’s sad that this part of history was destroyed.

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Both Frank and Sana were buried above the high tide mark on the beach at Somerset.  It’s a little hard to find the graveyard as it’s not really marked, but a short walk from the beach and you will see this small area of graves.  As well as Frank and Sana there are other family members and other early pioneers of the area buried here.  Unfortunately this small grave yard is not well kept and it’s sad that such important people in the history of the cape region are not given a little more respect in death.

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We are not sure where John Jardine was buried, but his wife, Elizabeth Jardine’s grave is in the Cooktown Cemetary (pic below from one of our previous visits).

Next we were off to start the 5 Beaches Loop.  This takes you on a track which winds along a series of relatively isolated beaches, each separated by headlands.  This is one drive well worth doing as you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views.

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We drove down onto the first beach and decided to stop for lunch, another amazing spot.  We had the whole beach to ourselves and even managed to fit in a little photo shoot before two of our vehicles headed off back into town.

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This isn’t a difficult drive, but it’s a pretty one and gives you another insight into the different terrain and landscape the cape has to offer.

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So technically there is a 6th beach on the 5 Beaches Loop, but the entry to this one looked a little sketchy and it was hot and none of us were in the mood for recovering vehicles that day so we decided to head out and back to camp, but not before a drive past Lake Wincheura.  This lake is apparently home to many birds and salt water crocodiles, but we saw none!  It did look like the type of place you don’t want to be wandering around or camping at though!

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